Laboratory Coordinator, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi


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Let's make "the 1%" irrelevant.

We keep hearing about the alleged "1%" who control whatever gigantermous portion of the US economy. We hear how evil they are. We hear how wonderful they are. They are exploiters. They are job creators. They need to have their wealth redistributed. They need to have their wealth protected. Either way, there is a lot of fixation on the very wealthy.
What if we just started making plans and taking actions without them. People can be very smart when we're not wallowing in dogmatism. Why not figure out ways to address severe poverty that simply ignore "the 1%". Are "the 1%" really so vital and important? Are "the rest of us" really so helpless and stupid that the only way to "paradise" is to either be abject puppets of "the 1%" or raid the surplus hoardings of "the 1%"?

  • Feb 5 2014: So you're proposing to ignore the problem instead of addressing it?
    Those 1% control a completely disproportionate amount of resources. Ignoring them simply isn't realistic, they have too much power for that, and their influence extends to pretty much all walks of life.

    No matter whether your opinion of them is good or bad, simply treating them like an elephant in the room isn't going to better your lot.
    • Feb 5 2014: No, I'm proposing that it is a NON-ISSUE used by crybabies and lunatics to keep us forever trapped in this cycle.
      • Feb 5 2014: But its very much an issue.
        Wealth disparity leads to reduced quality of living for the lot of the populace, but especially those at the bottom, and to increase in social unrest.

        The disparity in wealth also leads to a disparity in political power. That 1% of the people, naturally inclined to look after the 1%, does so at the expense of everyone else's interests.

        In extreme cases, its leads to violent revolution. Communism didn't rise in Russia because the proletarian were crybabies or lunatics, it rose up because they were sick and tired of dirt farming while the nobility and priesthood lived in luxury without actually doing productive work.
        We don't have much nobility today, instead we have the super rich. Throw in a food shortage of the type that happens every couple of years, and high unemployment from the mechanization of the workforce which broke the "trickle down" model, and you've got a recipe for disaster.
        • Feb 11 2014: Obviously, you want to remain dependent on "the 1%", either as your masters or as a source of plunder. You merely want to perpetuate injustice eternally. All attempts throughout history to plunder a given era's "1%" have ended up merely replacing an old "1%" with a new "1%"--the "leadership" of the "revolution".
      • Feb 11 2014: Seeing as an era's 1% come and go without it always ending in violence, that doesn't really seem to be the case. They can be gradually disarmed of their excessive wealth; more socialist leaning democracies seem to do it reasonably well.

        If you've got a better idea, I'd like to hear it. Something concrete though, no high ideals with no connection to the real world.

        One way or another, did I at least get you to admit its an issue, and not merely the domain of "crybabies and lunatics?"
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      Feb 13 2014: No, he's proposing not letting a made-up problem continue to exist.

      The '.01%' are just the beneficiaries of the fact that we're playing in an extremely bad game of Monopoly where somebody bought up all the pieces before the game started.

      There's nothing REAL there. It's not ignoring it if you acknowledge it as a game and look at alternative solutions that don't play to the strengths of the worst of us.
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    Feb 12 2014: As I read all this, I really have to make the point, that the 1% everyone is trying to make irrelevant are not all individuals, but ... Global Corporations. As we look at wealthy individuals as implied in this conversation, we see that many of them have major interest in these corporations. However, that position is not guaranteed. We can talk about people who founded great companies and lost them in another conversation.

    So, let's look at a 1%er major company. British Petroleum is a good one. They exploit natural resources, have created massive environmental damages, etc. They have great wealth in physical assets and a cash flow that is higher then most countries. So, do we ignore them, become BP puppets, or raid their surplus hoardings?

    We could ignore them, we may have to drive farther for gas, pay more for it and wait in lines to get it, but we did that in 1979 and survived.

    Puppets? Well, we can just continue to buy gas as we have done, complaining how it doubled in the last 5 years, while our government says there is no inflation.... another conversation.

    We can take them down and "share the wealth". First, we got change some laws, then to find where BP is all at, thirty, fifty different countries? All the countries would have to work together to insure BP can't get slippery and shift around.
    It will take a lot of action to get it all, the amount of physical properties has to be enormous, property owned and property leased. Then there are all those contracts BP has with other companies, do we honor those contracts and buy them out or tell the other companies to go suck eggs, like the US government did when they redid General Motors.

    But now the hard part, What happens to the people? BP has employees in the 6 figure range, they are all out of work. And what about all those shareholders... Warren Buffet may be able to take the hit when the share value goes to zero, but what happens to the 30000 teacher's retirement funds?
    Not easy, is it!
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      Feb 12 2014: Mike, you have made some valid points. Your image appears very young to be so smart. The clip below shows another very young and smart.
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        Feb 12 2014: You got me... I do a little acting on the side...actually my avatar is about what I looked like nearly 80 years ago...
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      Feb 13 2014: Couldn't we do an end-around? Make a corporation that's powerful enough to live inside that actually competes by offering people decent lives while at the same time using 'hiring principles' to set a new standard for civilization?

      That way you compete at recruitment (nobody really tries there) and the more people you get the less there are to contribute to all the other problems we have.

      Once you hit economic sustainability you stop ruining things for everyone else, and then we can get to ecological sustainability without having to deal with everyone else ruining what we're trying to fix all the time.

      Something like this?
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        Feb 13 2014: William, I don't think so. Corporations are by nature an organization to produce a product or service for sale in order to make a profit. They bring together materials, labor, facilities to create their product and have to keep it marketable. They recruit for the skills they need to create their product.
        The link you sent, wasn't what I know as a business plan. I can see it as a social organization even a political cause, but not a business.
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          Feb 13 2014: That's how corporations are often used, yes.

          However, the legal framework is a little more sophisticated than that, and can be repurposed

          We dug into this pretty hard and nobody's come up with a flaw that has't just ended up becoming part of the design.

          I wouldn't have said anything if I wasn't quite certain that we could pull this off. While the old approach led us down the path of TL;DR the new one (employee handbook, seed community building guide, and 'new model' for a few more fundamentals) at least is short enough that we're getting the right questions at the right times.

          Mind you, I'd LOVE to find a 'flaw', because every on so far has just given us a few more options to work with. The whole idea is assembled from (in part) several hundred TED talks and a multitude of other sources.

          I'm more interested in crowdourcing it and getting it in the hands of people who are at better times of their lives for such a thing.
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        Feb 14 2014: William,

        The more I look into your profile and opinions the more I start to believe that we can collaborate to make something big. We share similar views on so many levels and I am so motivated to bring about world peace through the implementation of ted ideas in real life. I may have an approach that may make the latter plausible, I would very much appreciate it if you may consider some time to review the conversations that I have started and see if it may interest you. Collaboration is the key tomalley projects successful.
  • Feb 20 2014: I don't believe a lot of people understand how much wealth the 1% actually have.

    Do we actually realize how much money this is? How much power that is in free market capitalism? I don't believe in wealth redistribution, especially if these people have actually earned the money. However, we need to understand that the a lot of the decisions we make (whether we know it or not) are influenced by the 1% (politically and personally).

    To really make the 1% irrelevant, everyone would have to rise up and take action in a larger sense. People would have to hold strong together and make changes that actually make sense for the greater good. One person even a small community is not going to change our world into "paradise."

    You're 100% correct though, we need to work on ways to "work around" the 1%. That starts with an investment, an investment of money, time, and dedication to education. I am not even talking about going to college but simply educating yourself about that adjustable rate mortgage you just signed for your house or that new car you just bought instead of fixing your old cars transmission. Our society wants us to stay dumb and buy new shiny things but do we actually need those things? Does money really matter?

    To a lot of people money does matter and those new things do matter. Our culture as a whole needs to change before the 1% can become irrelevant. Is it impossible? No way! But it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to each and every person.
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    Feb 11 2014: Where' s the idea here?
    This is an question, actually many questions, in search of an "idea."
    Let's restate the problem:

    "They, (three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all."


    Additionally, there are four companies that control the "147 companies" that own everything.
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      Feb 12 2014: Suit up, in the end we will all be working for Walmart!
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        Feb 12 2014: Walmart will be automated with robots, hehehe.
        But we'll figure some way to make money, or all the corporation will be forced out of business.
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    Feb 9 2014: Bryan.
    Your point that that there is too much weeping and gnashing of teeth over wealthier Americans is well taken. But we can't ignore them. They are part of our society. Most have been very successful in their... business.
    Right now, they are being attacked from all sides. I heard of one who wrote he was concerned that American wealthy would be meet the same fate as the Jews in Germany in the 1930s. This is what they think?

    So, let's start making plans with them. They have been successful, Why don't we have them teach the rest of us what they've learned. Not all would be successful, but many would. My understanding is that many people have a dream to do something spectacular, a great business, a great career....but they lack confidence. Having a successful person providing confidence and knowledge for them to be successful, would be all they need.

    The sad part is that there are such programs. But instead of promoting these programs, too many are standing in the streets shaking their fist at the very people who can solve so many of these problems.
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    Feb 19 2014: As a member of the 99%'ers, I do not look to the 1% or their hoardings to provide me with "the only way to paradise". In fact, I believe that most of us are concerned about issues such as food, shelter and clothing for ourselves and our families, for safe communities and reliable services, and the availability of sustained, relevant and affordable education and rewarding, sustaining, employment, and that very few of us are preoccupied with paradise.

    I don't understand the ethos of the 1%, or envy them their apparent riches or supposed power; actually, I believe that they are burdened by it. For those amongst us who may, from time to time, covet their power and possessions, I suggest that you...

    "...beware of greedy leaders;
    they take you where you should not go..."

    - from George Harrison's song, 'Beware of Darkness', at The Concert For Bangladesh, Madison Square Garden, New York, 08/01/71
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    Feb 16 2014: The only power the "1%" has over me is the power I give it. "Freedoms knowing I got no one left to blame".
  • Feb 14 2014: ** Part 1**
    Perhaps try joining a game of monopoly mid way through the sale of available properties, with optimism and a positive mental attitude that even though half the properties have gone already, half are still up for grabs. Fancy your chances much?

    Perhaps this does not directly address the 1% as you would wish it to? So true...

    Ok, play the game from the start, but give away those dark blue properties to 1 player from the get go. Let them have a hotel on each too (why not?). That wouldn't go nearly far enough though. Make each role of the dice a tax payment from each player. Except "The One" of course. They, instead, pay half the amount of the others in taxes, but receive a healthy multiple amount in interest). They can also use the surplus wealth they gain at each role of the dice (which is a tax to you), to overturn the rules limiting the number of hotels allowed on a property. Same rule for all mind you, or that wouldn't 'be fair' would it? How would you fancy your chances now? Would you even play the game? Yet we do... we all do.

    Ok... so be clever... approach "The One" and make a deal. A tenacious, mutually beneficial tactical move that will at least pull yourself out of the mire.

    But then... you would have failed entirely to make The One "irrelevant".

    I would suggest the real game is well under way and the rules have been bent out of all proportion. The only way we could possibly make the 1% "irrelevant", the only way not to lose, is not to play the game at all.
  • Feb 14 2014: ** Part 2 **

    Profit... the pursuit of profit IS the elephant in the room (I think). Why can't we have the pursuit of other things? Like... technology?

    I have absolutely no idea how to implement such a thing, but imagine a culture that 'paid' itself with healthcare, education and all those latest new fan dangled products we all love so much.

    Money, as a means of exchange, has ceased to be 'exchanged' as we would most intend - surely - this would at least appear to be self evident?

    Most Governments are all heavily indebted and touting 'there's no more money', but no one is sitting on the credit notes, except maybe the IMF and the World Bank. And I think it's clear that the figures they play with are purely fictitious & imaginary. Everything is sold to us as having 'value' through 'scarcity' and money having value through its scarcity is no exception - it has to be scarce or would have no 'real' value to us.

    It's a game of belief. Nay...It's a belief. I think we have to stop believing in the money (accumulation & profit) as a noble pursuit. A far more noble venture would be the pursuit of happiness, well being, personal development and the all important sustainability of our home. Indeed we should be reaching for the stars, but somehow we can't seem to afford it? Can't afford to clean up our industries?

    The things we pursue through our beliefs has to change. If we stopped believing money has real value, surely we would immediately pursue something else?

    THAT is how we make the 1% irrelevant.
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    Feb 13 2014: I must raise my thinking to doubt. Am I simply creating a problem in my own perception? Am I looking to assign blame to what is not the source. Whatever I see is my own thoughts projected onto the world. Maybe the only way to change the world is to change my thoughts about it. If that works I'll send a postcard from "Paradise".
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    Feb 13 2014: I approve of this approach.
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    Feb 12 2014: T Hoppe made a valid point. Of the 147 global companies that have tremendous power there are 4 companies that have them under the umbrella.

    I once really got into the stock market .. did okay ... but you MUST do your homework. I looked into each company and read their prospectuses I also look up the Board of Directors, and attempted to gauge the market. If the Univ of Podunk put out a news release that it made a break through .. I found out who gave the corporate grant to Podunk. It was real work.

    What I am saying is that is tough to follow the money ... you are concerned about Bill Gates and Warren Buffet .. I grew up in central Kansas for a few years and my grandparents were "paper millionaires". The land, buildings, equipment, and assets were large and they were "rich" ... not so. They were in hock for everything and had to borrow money for seed.

    All of their money is tied up ... Kennedy once said that he could not get his hands on $10,000 in 48 hours.

    You want the big money look to banks and mega corporations ... they do not spend their money they get grants and loans from the government ... the rest of us suck eggs.
  • Feb 12 2014: You can't ignore the 1% - they own too much. 85 PEOPLE (not Counties - not Companies - 85 PEOPLE) control as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 B. 85 people own HALF of the planet!

    There are many who say 'They earned their money.' Others claim 'The Poor are lazy while the Rich work hard.' These are lies meant to justify their obscene wealth. Invested money, inherited wealth and priviledged upbringing makes it extremely easy for the 1% to increase their wealth. Those same breaks are not available to the Poor.

    I have quit thinking about the cost of things in Dollars. Now I think in terms of 'portions of your life spent.' If you are Poor, you will 'spend' hours each day commuting to your job, where you will 'spend' 8 hours trying to make money to pay for your housing, food, clothing and bus fare. At the end of the day, you might have earned enough at work to have an hour left to 'spend' on things like education, family time or building a business. Or on other activities you enjoy, vices you have or pursuit of happiness. Then 'spend' 8 hours sleeping before it starts all over. Such is the life of the Poor in America.

    The 1%, on the other hand, 'spend' very little of their life to accomplish the same results. Romney makes $75/PER SECOND on the money he stole. That means that in one single second Mitt Romney 'makes' more than a minimum-wage worker does in 2 days! So instead of having to work, Mitt is free to innovate, invest, improve, etc.

    Now in theory Mitt uses the other 23hrs59min59sec to create jobs. Instead it is spent protecting what he has and stealing even more. There is no upper limit to their theft. So that leads to 85 people with as much as 3.5 Billion. If 85 people were responsible for cancer would you kill them?

    My solution is simple: I'll be selling Pitchforks and Torches on the lawns of the 1%. If the People win the Revolution, I will have provided the means of revolt. If the 1% win, hopefully I'll have made enough money to join them!
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    Feb 12 2014: If cause and effect is true to itself I must be mindful of what I assign as irrelevant to. The top 1% are in a position to be most relevant to serve. It is prosperity not poverty that can best serve. I see the idea of making others irrelevant as simply furthering the problem of separation. Look for the ties that bind.
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    Feb 12 2014: Join a movement that implements real democracy instead of plutocracy.
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      Feb 12 2014: Hello Mr. Cop,

      One of the most important things in a discussion or debate is having common definition of terms, never assuming that the other person knows exactly what you mean. Having said that, what do you mean by "a movement that implements real democracy instead of plutocracy".

      Please make your presentation as clear and as concrete as possible - when you use democracy, make sure it is clear; and when you use plutocracy, everyone understands what it means.
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    Feb 11 2014: I'm still in the process of wrapping my head around this "1%" issue. But it stimulates my imagination in a big way.

    So, here is one of my "thought experiments" on this issue: Imagine a scenario where one member of the 1% tells his fellow 'one per centers', "Here is a list of persons belonging to the bottom 99% who are worrying me a lot. I propose we must take all necessary measures to make them irrelevant."

    Do you want your name on that list?
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    Feb 11 2014: Were there not "top 1%" 100 million years ago ... 10 million years ago ... a million years ago ... 10 thousand years ago ...a thousand years ago ... five hundred years ago .. four hundred years ago ... three hundred years ago ... two hundred years ago ... one hundred years ago?

    Where are those on "top of the food chain" not too long ago? What happened to them?

    Some of the members of TED Conversations, like Mr. Hoppe, are proposing that we should search for an idea or ideas and we should restate the problem or problems.

    Some wise man said that if you want to find the right answers, you should first ask the right questions.

  • Feb 11 2014: The way you make the !% irrrelevent is to get rid of money alltogeather. The real currancy shouldnt be a peice of paper which on its own has no value, yet in most ways effect people just as much as poetry. Instead, have it be knowledge
    He who invented money probably never knew how to fish.

    As we are now technologicaly speaking the world is in a "plasma stage" dramatic advancments in technology but for what? To find a new more effficient way to fight wars? without advancing socialy, not only as a nation, but globaly we will never be able to live and help one another.

    Why do we have wars in the first place, my view is like Jacque Fresco onece said that the day we call earth common ground for everyone is the day we will stop fighting to obtain its resources.

    Wealth is not purley based on money, it can be a number of things but to me true wealth is love.
    Love is a way of being one that sets us all free, the minute we stop treating people, nations, Earth like some type of machine, thats when we can all be part of the 1%

    Have you ever heard of the venus project?
    Resourse based economy---thats how you eliminate the 1%
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    Feb 11 2014: Yes, Let's make the top 1% irrelevant:
    - Don't buy food
    - Don't gas
    - Don't buy clothes
    - Don't computers and printers
    - Don't buy school and office supplies
    - Don't go to restaurants
    - Don't go to hospitals and clinics
    - Don't buy insurance
    - Don't deposit your money in the bank
    - Don't use credit and debit cards
    - Don't buy cars
    - Don't fly
    - And so on ...
    Hopefully by doing the above and more, we can make the top 1% really irrelevant!
    • Feb 11 2014: So, you're saying that "the 1%" are your gods, since you cannot even imagine not living in dependency to them.
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        Feb 11 2014: Mr. Maloney, just to make things clear, I did not use the word "gods". However, the question is: How could you or we live independently without the top 1% then?

        You might suspect I belong to the top 1% because I make it seem like I'm depending them. The truth is I'm not even remotely close to being top 1%. Besides the top 1% don't need someone like me to do anything for them.

        For the sake of argument, we all succeed in making the top 1% - to borrow your word - irrelevant, won't the current top 2% become the top 1%?

        What if we keep on doing this until the current top 20% become irrelevant, what do you think will happen? I'm wondering, and maybe I'm not alone on this: What do you really mean by "irrelevant" anyway?

        Another food for thought: There are many people in some parts of the world who are, in many ways, living independently from the top 1%. All we have to do is identify them, learn from them, and then chose if we want to live like them.
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      Feb 11 2014: The Top Fifty Corporate Owners

      1. Barclays plc
      2. Capital Group Companies Inc
      3. FMR Corporation
      4. AXA
      5. State Street Corporation
      6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
      7. Legal & General Group plc
      8. Vanguard Group Inc
      9. UBS AG
      10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
      11. Wellington Management Co LLP
      12. Deutsche Bank AG
      13. Franklin Resources Inc
      14. Credit Suisse Group
      15. Walton Enterprises LLC (holding company for Wal-Mart heirs)
      16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
      17. Natixis
      18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
      19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
      20. Legg Mason Inc
  • Feb 7 2014: "The Law of Supply and Demand, you control it and no government, politician, corporation or military can break it. This law is the only viable solution to all of the world's problems and it is totally up to you! If you don't buy it, they don't make it. It's not them, it's you! If you want more pollution, crime, poverty and injustice, keep buying what they are selling. If you want change, simply change your buying habits. It is that simple!"- Keith W Henline

    Timebanking is another great solution.
    • Feb 7 2014: Stop playing the game, what you actually do is make yourself irrelevant. They will still own and control all but the few scraps you manage to gather from their table.
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    Feb 6 2014: .
    No, we can't
    because "equality" is the basis of human bio-evolution.
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      Feb 9 2014: As important as the concept of equality is, I believe it is very much misunderstood. People achieve different results on academic tests, some people can run faster than others, and other people can handle a car with more efficiency. Some people study neurology, whilst others specialise in heart surgery.

      There are many differences between people, yet do not take this as a statement against equality. Indeed, I believe equality is the means to understanding such differences and using them to progress through co-operation.

      If everyone were the same, and had the same ideologies, same skills, same weaknesses and so on, then the diversity of human endeavours which stands as the foundation of progression and growth would diminish.

      Regarding financial systems, if equality were obtainable, they would collapse. Which to my mind would be both good and bad, brilliant, yet catastrophic.
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        Feb 10 2014: .
        Yes. "Diversity" helps humankind survival.
        But "financial diversity" does not. It makes INVALID HAPPINESS --- the origin of all evil.
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          Feb 10 2014: Definitely. Money is the root cause of an incredible abundance and diversity of all problems.

          I sometimes feel as though a World with no money, and no such concept, would be far better, but then in the present, where an unbelievable number of people have come to depend on such systems, this seems an almost impossible prospect without some sort of catastrophic transition.

          When you consider it, all money is imaginary. It's a hypothetical concept which fluctuates in its level of value. Only a few centuries ago all the money that we use today never existed, yet it now dominates people's lives, their motives and their feelings. People care more about the acquisition of money than they do about fundamentals of life such as sustenance and nutrition. It even seems that there are some, such as self-indulgent business owners, who are deluded enough in this endeavour to gain money that they place their profits above the quality and longevity of the lives of members of even their own species, whilst perpetually showing no care for their planet in belief that they are somehow superior to all else on it. Although nature will always be far more supreme than any man-made concept or object.
          I remain contempt knowing that whilst some people have money, I have a finely cultivated mind and a high level of physical aptitude and so on. Everyone has brilliant attributes which they develop throughout life. Money has just become another of these attributes, yet it's a shame that we think of it instead as being the centre of our lives.
    • Feb 11 2014: I'm a biologist. "Equality" is a non-issue in evolution. Try again.
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    • Feb 11 2014: So, "the 1%" are as gods in your mind. They cannot be escaped. They are all-powerful.
  • Feb 5 2014: you do realize that as much as money does not buy a seat, only the rich can afford to run for office. So by extension, you are calling for a complete separation of the government and the people... good luck with that
    • Feb 11 2014: I see, so in your mind, government is god, since nothing can be done without the government doing it.
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    Feb 5 2014: any action you want to take in the world you can think about who if anybody you want to support you. Many actions you just take yourself, you don't need any support. Many you do need some support, but it's usually from whatever people are experts in the field where you're taking action, it's not necessarily the 1%. In fact, where really would you enlist someone's help just because they're in the 1%, maybe if you need a famous spokesperson for your cause? Then if you want you can ask famous people to be your spokesperson, maybe they will, maybe they won't, if one rejects you you can try another, if your cause is righteous presumably someone will support you. But most causes don't get that big where they need a famous spokesperson, do they?

    What actions are you trying to pursue where most people might consider trying to enlist 1-percenters, Bryan?
    • Feb 11 2014: That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that there are those who think we should worship them and those who think we should plunder them. Indeed, the vast majority of people are so tiny-minded and blind that they think the ONLY alternatives are to blindly follow or to plunder "the 1%". I'm proposing investigating something that is neither. This is, obviously, a religious heresy as far as most people are concerned.
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        Feb 12 2014: well, I tend to think it's not such a problem because it's not like there's a 1% and then everyone else is extremely poor. It's more like there's a 1%, then a 2%, 3%, and so on. So I doubt anyone in the 2% worships people in the 1%, because they're only a little more successful. Nor would they want to take their money, because the 2% gets their money a lot like the 1% gets theirs.

        I would think on TED you get people from different socioeconomic classes, so even on TED people have varying attitudes towards the 1%, not just either worship them or take their money.
  • Feb 5 2014: The more I read your posts, the more I realize that you have a hippie mindset.

    I do not mean that as an insult. I say it to put your point of view into a historical prospective.

    50 years ago, a fairly significant portion of the Baby Boom generation was questioning the rules of their parents' country. Why should they have to play the game by other peoples' rules. Many wanted to live in small, co-op communities where they could make the rest of society irrelevant.

    What they found is that to make a co-op function, is a lot of work and requires a lot of rules.

    Stuff does not just appear by magic. Someone had to plant, tend, harvest crops. Someone had to make stuff and sell it to pay for water, electricity, etc. You need money for a trip to a doctor or to buy medicine.

    You need everyone working. You need rules so that people can get along, and then you need an authority to enforce the rules.

    Pretty soon, you are just living in another person's set of rules. Don't they realize that you joined the commune to live without rules?

    Well, if you don't want rules, then you need to be totally isolated and self-sufficient, because as soon as there are human interactions, there have to be rules.

    I would certainly encourage you to attempt to start (yet another) counter culture that attempts to live by its own rules, making the larger established culture irrelevant. Maybe this time....

    I never liked the Einstein saying "The definition of crazy is doing the doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." Crazy is more of a brain malfunction. I'd say the same thing over and over but expecting different result is more stupid than crazy.
    • Feb 11 2014: No, I'm just not a whiner or a weakling. Whiners say "WAAAAAAH! We must plunder the 1%!" Weaklings say "We must adore and follow the 1%." Why is there no possibility of another way at all?
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    Feb 5 2014: Bryan,
    I see some conversations as a lure to get me to bite and I am weak when it comes to temptations.
    So, why stop at one percent. How about 5%?
    But, OK, 1 %.
    That's an annual reported income of $394K, if I read the IRS info correctly. Make them all irrelevant.
    Let's start with the President. He is at $400K,
    Most of the NFL.... there goes my Sunday afternoons.
    All those rappers, I liked the old big band sound anyway.
    And Movie Stars.... Saturday afternoon with my grandsons? No more?
    Four of my seven doctors... but there are PAs that can address by geriatric issues.
    Most congresspeople report income in excess of $400K, but I think we all can agree that they have made themselves irrelevant.
    But, you do make a good point, when you address the loss of rationality when it comes to envy.
    Envy to me makes no sense, but, I see it as a physiological impairment with people who fanatically address
    those who may have more wealth and want some for themselves.
  • Feb 5 2014: Darrel: (not sure why this post ended up at the top) I'm afraid I'm embarassingly ignorant about economics. As in most things I have no answers, just questions. Your post brings up another factor though. In this age of information overload, many of us are left dazed and confused when we look around for answers. Politicians and pundits on both side of the aisle speak with complete confidence in completely opposing views and interpretations of current events and possible solutions to our economic and political problems. We are left with pretty much the same results either way. The great majority are left with the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness while those "in power" continue to play the game.
    • Feb 5 2014: This information overload is an issue.

      Democracy puts the burden on the voter to become informed. You certainly cannot go to the politicians, or the people with a vested interest in the outcome (lobbyists and PACs). This means that the way most people get their info (TV commercials) is actually highly counter-productive.

      Macro-economics is probably one of the most difficult topics to understand. Because we are dealing with the entire economy, there are massive feedback loops.

      At the micro-level (just my household or just my business), I can reduce my spending without reducing my income. At the macro-level (entire economy), one person spends less, that means someone's income is going down.

      At the micro-level, I can spend less than I earn, accumulating money or paying down debt. At the macro-level, all spending has to equal all income, so the only way one person can be spending less than they earn is if someone else is spending more than they earn.

      Macro-economics has two negatives against it. 1) it is counter intuitive. 2) It tells us things that people REALLY do not want to be true.

      As a result, many, many people reject macro-economics as unfair, partisan, bovine fecal matter. It as if they believe that if they ignore it, or deny it, macro-economics will just go away.

      Many notice how debt has been increasing at an unsustainable way for 30+ years and blame the people that went into debt. Those that understand macro-economics understand that once we lowered top marginal income tax rates and embraced free international trade, allowing a few to sell more than they buy, debt was necessary to allow others to buy more than they sell.

      The rich did not get richer despite everyone else going into debt. Once we created the imbalances that let the rich get richer, we had to do whatever it took to get others to go into debt. It is the only way we could make the economy function.
  • Feb 5 2014: This is really funny, and not for the reason you think Bryan.

    You see you have to think they are relevant to say let's make them irrelevant. You need to start with a premise, and this is a good as any other - they like you, and me too - are just assholes, we are all assholes, the only difference is they have more money.

    Now what's very important to remember, is that just because some asshole has more money - that does not make them more right. That does not make them more worthy. That does not make them more important. That's what you need to remind people of. If you see a talk and some asshole with more money says that this education is the way to go, ask what are their qualifications. When you see some pushing planned birth control - ask them where they got their degree from, and in what.

    You see the secret to this IS to know that everyone is the same, and their diatribe, just like mine is ONLY an opinion, NOT the truth.

    Because then you realize that even the 1% have to eat, now unless they are going to grow corn, they need you. Then you realize that, if they want to drink coffee, they need someone to be in that shop. You see the pattern.

    We are all connected, even the 1%, they cannot do without you, they are you, you are them, we are all equal. We are all assholes :)
    • Feb 5 2014: Having more money does not make them less right or less worthy either. That's the whole point. WHY MUST ANY SOLUTION RELY UPON THEM?

      Every proposal I've seen always boils down to either "we must worship 'the 1%'" or "we must exterminate 'the 1%'". In either case, they always are dependent on "the 1%".
      • Feb 5 2014: No it does not, make them less right or less worthy either, that's exactly what I said,

        they are you, you are them, we are all equal.
  • Feb 5 2014: I don't think the rest of us are helpless or stupid (though I act stupidly all the time) , I think we lack cohesion. The "1%" exist because they have in common one thing; a desire and drive for the accumulation of money/power. As I said in the other talk, this doesn't make them bad people, though some of the things some of them do to reach this goal does. The rest of us lack a unifying drive, but we definitely have the power to affect whatever change we want if we could only act together. It makes me think of the "day of prayer and fasting" that Gandhi called fir that effectively brought the British empire (at least the part in india) to a standstill. The great mass of "the rest of us" seem too distracted and/or apathetic for this method though. Maybe I'm just being pessamistic, but this method would require sacrifices I cant see some making. We are comfortable, we have video games and convenience stores, sports games and celebrities. Besides this, there are so many if us that are right on the edge of not making ends meet we are paralyzed and afraid to rock the boat. The question is not whether we have the power, its how do we convince people to use it.
    • Feb 5 2014: It actually would not take sacrifice for the majority. Quite the contrary, it would be a boon for the masses.

      All we would need to do is cut through the party politics and propaganda with a strong dose of truth.

      Unfortunately, the existing political parties have engrained their messages so deeply into peoples' personalities, that to even question the propaganda of the political party is to risk death of your personality.
      • Feb 5 2014: Fair point! I have lost all faith in our political system. Financial lobbies and PACs have warped our form of democracy to the point of being unrecognizable. I absolutely agree that to stand together to affect changes in our society would benefit most of us. I guess what I meant by sacrifice is that we would have to give up some of our time, some of the cheap and unfulfilling entertainment we seek, amd some of the limited security a lotof us find in letting others choose for us.
        • Feb 5 2014: The lobbies and PACs expend great effort to spread false information.

          Our "sacrifice" is simply to spend equal effort getting the truth out.

          Unfortunately, I find that most people prefer a good fairytale over truth.

          Take the Laffer Curve. It relied on a couple false assumptions (flat tax, no deductions) and set up a hypothetical 100% tax rate from which lowering the rate would improve the economy. Once we accept the false assumptions and non-existent 100% rate, we have accepted a hypothetical situation where lowering taxes increases revenues, it is used to justify lowering taxes in an completely different context, where there is ample evidence to the contrary.

          I think the most useful aspect of the Laffer Curve is a demonstration of how easy it is to convince people of things that they want to believe. Just give them a way to rationalize away truth, and they will accept any fairytale that they think will benefit them.
  • Feb 5 2014: How would you see the game played Bryan?
    • Feb 5 2014: Don't know, that is why I phrased the question as I did instead of writing a detailed manifesto of "exactly how to do things". I am taking the heretical and extremely sinful step of questioning a fundamental assumption. Much of the response to this has already shown that I am a heretic--a large number of people prefer to wallow and believe that nothing can be done at all without "the 1%". Why not just ignore the buggers? Why is everyone afraid to even contemplate that possibility? Supposedly, according to one cult, the wealth of "the 1%" is locked up and hoarded, NEVER USED. Thus, that wealth is ultimately irrelevant, anyway.
  • Feb 5 2014: Money controls elections and elections control the nation.

    It would be wonderful if people stopped voting based on 30 second commercials, bumper stickers and party affiliations.

    How do we get there from here?
    • Feb 5 2014: The co-op movement didn't rely on government to solve their problem. Relying on government to solve everything will only perpetuate things as they are.
      • Feb 5 2014: National elections have been running 51% to 49%. Congress is very near 50-50 in both houses. Many state governments are also nearly split evenly.

        It would take very little momentum to shift politics away from the Reaganomics that have dominated for the last 33 years, back to something more akin to the 1940-1960. That would be ANYTHING but perpetuation of things as they are.

        And the Republicans know it. Really, all we have to do is survive another decade until the Boomers begin to die off, and the demographic shift will do in the Conservatives and their coddling of the rich.
        • Feb 5 2014: You are still being nothing but a blind dogmatic, worshiping government as the sole solution to everything. You presume that "the 1%" are mandatory and absolutely necessary to everything. Thus, you refuse to even entertain my social heresy.